Innovative Solutions Award Winner: Zero Emissions - Santa Maria Regional Transit (Santa Maria, Calif.)/Heliox Energy
California’s Santa Maria Regional Transit (SMRT) sought to electrify its public transportation system, but the delivery of its electric buses did not align with the completion of the necessary infrastructure, the agency teamed with Heliox Energy, who installed a cost-effective 50 kw charging unit at the agency’s bus depot.
The solution helped SMRT introduce its first two electric buses without waiting for a full infrastructure build-out.
“We might not be able to get out to every conference, nor much less meet with every vendor, but to see products showcased and highlighted, like Heliox, in an easily accessible desktop version of periodicals like METRO Magazine, is a great way to learn about all the great things solutions available,” says Gamaliel Anguiano, transit services manager at SMRT, about how the agency was able to identify Heliox as a potential partner. “As a result, organizations like Heliox and their product line are now part of the arsenal of rapidly deployable solutions the City of Santa Maria considers for addressing our electrification charging needs.”
Benefits of Going Mobile
The mobile charging unit ensured uninterrupted operation and saved the city from substantial delays, displaying remarkable ingenuity and adaptability.
“Gamaliel and the team at SMRT were looking for a mobile charging solution for their transit bus fleet,” explains Matt D’Ambrisi, business development manager, transit North America, at Heliox. “The ‘plug and play’ nature of the Heliox 50kW Mobile allowed that need to be met, as the installation is as simple as plugging the unit into a suitable AC receptacle.”
The main selling point of Heliox’s 50kW Mobile Charger is that it requires minimal infrastructure for installation, says D’Ambrisi. The charger has two main use cases for their 50kw charger within the transit space — temporary charging before full electrification occurs and use in maintenance garages while BEBs are in for service. There is no breaking of concrete, no running of conduit — a simple plug and ample electrical service is all that’s needed to be up and running.
The chargers offer different cable length options, are Buy America-compliant, and interoperability tested with transit bus OEMs.
By deploying the mobile charging unit, Santa Maria introduced electric buses ahead of schedule, bypassing the need for extensive infrastructure projects.
The mobile 50kW charging unit also offered an affordable alternative to fixed charging stations. It significantly reduced installation costs while maintaining operational efficiency for the electric buses, demonstrating the financial viability of Heliox Energy's solution.
ZEBs Reducing Carbon Footprint
The introduction of electric buses, facilitated by Heliox Energy's solution, contributed to a reduction in carbon emissions and improved air quality in Santa Maria. The partnership also amplified the city's commitment to sustainability and cleaner transportation.
“The City of Santa Maria is on a mission,” says Anguiano. “We have fully embraced the electrification and modernization of our fleet and will achieve a comprehensive charging infrastructure build-out by early 2024.”
The partnership between Santa Maria and Heliox Energy exemplifies innovation and adaptability. By swiftly implementing a mobile charging unit, Heliox Energy empowered Santa Maria to overcome infrastructure challenges and expedite the transition to sustainable electric buses. The collaboration serves as a shining example for other cities facing similar obstacles, displaying that quick and cost-effective solutions can drive the development of a greener future.
“Heliox is always happy to hear that our Mobile Chargers help to bridge any gaps in charging needs experienced by transit agencies,” says D’Ambrisi. “It’s an honor to be recognized by our industry’s leading publication, but even more so to be nominated by a satisfied customer.”